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A Veteran Ski Instructor Finds Nordic Matches His Senior Skiing Philosophy.

A seasoned Alpine skier (left) compared to a pro Nordic skier. XC is easy to do wrong.
(Credit: Brad Noren_

Older, wiser, cheaper, what is this about? It reflects on what happens with age for most, but let’s put it into a skiing context. Having taught skiing since 1971, I’ve discovered these are the three adjectives that seem to reflect on one’s skiing philosophy with the passing of time.

Most of us in this age group probably skied a lot in the 70s and 80s, maybe even the 60s. I’m sure those memories are rich with fun, challenge and thrill. But as we move into the present, the love of the sport is struggling against those three words in many ways, and, for some, as the song says, “The Thrill is Gone”.

Over my many years of skiing and teaching skiing, I watched aging skiers make changes that were hard to accept (me included). This often resulted in some quitting the sport (not me included). Back to the “older” adjective; in brief, “the body doesn’t do that anymore”. The “wiser” adjective points to personal safety issues, and the “cheaper,” well, you know what that means.

Being “older, wiser, and cheaper,” I have found cross country skiing to be an excellent sport for seniors but often not understood or accepted by the once serious downhill skiing fanatic of decades past.

XC skiing will give you the opportunity to circumvent most of the “older” issues by building muscular strength, adaptive fitness, respiratory health, and the thrill of learning will return. A new challenge is in your future. XC skiing will make you much “wiser” on how your body parts really work, because you will be focusing on efficient movement, good diet, refined balance and more. XC skiing can also be “cheaper” than the downhill sport.

Being both an alpine and Nordic ski instructor, there’s a problem I’ve seen with the move from alpine to Nordic. Alpine skiers sometimes feel that since they are a seasoned, 40-year plus alpine skier, black diamonds, powder, NASTAR gold and all that they can put on a pair of XC skis and master the Nordic/XC sport.

Yes, you can try that but you will surely miss the fun, challenge, and the thrill. You must learn to XC correctly. XC skiing is easy to do BUT even easier to do wrong. I have seen this happen over and over again with close ski friends who are expert alpine skiers in their day. Ditch the ego and take a Nordic/XC ski lesson, you will not regret it. Yes, you will bring many skills in from your downhill resume, but you will also learn things you never even thought of. Your health will likely improve; you are going to be wiser learning a new skill, and you might—probably will—spend less cash.

And don’t give up your love for downhill because I also know your downhill skiing skills are going to be strengthened, and you will find a new thrill there as well.

For more information on properly learning XC skills, check out my web site, Nordic Fusion. As I tell all I ski with “Glide Long and Prosper”.

One Comment

  1. I’m perhaps the opposite in that I dabbled in DH skiing in the 70’s have XC skied a lot since then. I’ve only just recently taken up DH skiing. As a former CANSI XC instructor, coach, PE teacher my challenge has been to find a decent ski instructor who is able to detect and correct my technique but understands my body doesn’t work like a 20 year old (like them)

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